9 May 2019
8 May 2019
PUTRAJAYA: Regrets, I’ve had a few; But then again, too few to mention.
That line from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, an all-time favourite of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, perhaps sums up the veteran leader’s appraisal of his Pakatan Harapan government ahead of its first year in power tomorrow.
While ministers and ruling politicians have been busy listing out the coalition’s achievements in the past few weeks, Mahathir singles out the end of six decades of Barisan Nasional rule as its biggest success.
The prime minister said the change of government was something Malaysians had been clamouring for in the months before the May 9 elections last year.
“And to a certain extent, we have achieved that objective,” he said during a recent interview with the media as Malaysians remember the historic 14th general election tomorrow.
Mahathir said the government has lived up to its commitment to fight graft, including within the administration.
He claimed that there are now fewer complaints about corruption.
“We don’t get complaints by people saying their applications have been delayed, not unlike before. Before this money would be demanded to get approvals. Now that thing doesn’t happen,” said the 94-year-old who was thrust back into the top office 15 years after he announced his retirement as the fourth prime minister.
Early this year, Transparency International (TI) pushed Malaysia one rank up in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, placing it at number 61 out of 180 countries.
But Malaysia retained its score of 47% as in the previous year.
Mahathir also took to task doomsayers who said the PH coalition, made up of what was an unlikely alliance of political parties with opposing ideologies, would not last.
On the contrary, Mahathir, who chairs the coalition, said it is united.
“That they accepted me as their leader is also an achievement, which people don’t seem to know.”
But the veteran politician admitted hiccups in the past one year, but said critics were the very same people who “created all the problems”.
Topping the list of “hiccups” is the coalition’s pledge to abolish tolls.
Mahathir said the government was not able to remove highway tolls as it realised it had no money to buy off the highways.
The PLUS highway, he said, would cost RM30 billion, before it could become toll-free.
“So the question is do we use the RM30 billion for that or do we use the money for other more important matters?”
I like being told where I’ve gone wrong – Mahathir
The world may view him as an authoritarian leader but Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed that he welcomed constructive feedback to improve himself.
In a special media interview to mark Pakatan Harapan’s first anniversary in government, Mahathir said he personally has not felt any backlash, beyond what was reported by a critical press.
“I like being told where I’m wrong, where I’m weak so that I can correct myself,” said Mahathir who earned the label “dictator” from his detractors during his previous 22-year stint as the country’s fourth prime minister.
The Harapan chairperson also said he has no stand on the accuracy of a Merdeka Centre March survey which recorded his approval rating at only 46 percent, down from 87 percent in May last year.
“I don’t know. I don’t know whether it’s correct or not correct […],” said Mahathir who noted that Merdeka Centre’s final survey before polling day for the 14th general election had predicted a BN victory against Harapan.
“But what I do know is that people are not shooting at me, not taking potshots at me, except for the press and the critics.
“And I appreciate that,” said Mahathir.
Quizzed on his views on the party’s performance so far, Mahathir as Bersatu chairperson said he was “not quite satisfied”.
“Our membership is not very big. We also find that some practices are bad,” he said.
“For example, if you are chosen as division chief, you might not want people to join because they will displace you.
“So better (for them) to have a small Bersatu than a big Bersatu,” he noted, adding this resulted in the party not having much personnel when the time came to face by-elections.
PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) still must tread lightly when it comes to ethnic and religious issues despite already being in power for a year, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has admitted.
The prime minister said the coalition’s fortunes after the shock general election victory last year could easily be reversed if one ethnic group feels sidelined, but conceded that it is just not possible for Putrajaya to please all sections of the country.
Dr Mahathir asserted that Malaysians largely still only look after their own ethnic group, saying this extended even to his ministers who raise issues involving their own communities with the government in order to gain support from voters.
“We find that if we treat one race better but not the other, we’re going to have trouble. We try to make sure everybody will get proper satisfaction.
“But we can’t satisfy everybody fully all the time,” he said.
He also denied that only Malay-Muslims regularly took issue with his administration, despite several rallies held by Islamist groups accusing Putrajaya of sidelining the majority group.
A rally during the weekend ahead of the anniversary was dubbed by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as politically motivated and meant to tarnish the image of the government by painting it as uninterested in protecting the welfare of Muslims who form the bulk of the country’s multi-religious population.
However, Dr Mahathir said PH must still take note of such occurrences.
“We have to be conscious of that also. Because if we’re not attending to that, we will lose support from Malays. If PH lose support from Malays, we will lose.
“If PH loses support from the Chinese, we will also lose. Even the Indians can play a big role in ensuring PH lose. We have to be very careful,” Dr Mahathir conceded.
“Everybody has problems. And everyone thinks the government is paying attention to the other communities and not them,” he told a group media interview here.
“But the fact is that we are dealing with all communities. We have to make sure everybody is more or less satisfied.”